BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Government has threatened to name and shame alleged brains behind Zimbabwe’s verdant parallel market which it says was fuelling the spike in the prices for basic goods and services.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists at a post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday that authorities were aware of who the real buyers of foreign currency on the parallel market were and how they were pushing rates high.
“You think those young people without shoes are the ones who are behind the parallel market? It will be folly to believe that. We know that there are big people behind them. I think it is time we start to deal with that and expose who are these people,” she said.
By Tuesday, the US dollar was selling for ZWL$7,3 on the electronic money transfer platform and ZWL$5,8 for the bond notes.
Mutsvangwa said although the law that criminalises dealing in foreign currency without authority and carrying a 10-year jail sentence was in operation, arresting those on the streets, who she said were just agents, would not end the parallel market.
The run-away exchange rate has sent tremors down government corridors with fears that it could collapse the economy with most traders reluctant to conduct business, while those doing so were demanding hard currency.
Mutsvangwa said dealers were pegging the US dollar rate to the Old Mutual implied rate to determine the exchange rate for the US$ against the RTGS dollar.
“We can’t be pegging the rates against an international multinational group that is in business and has no interest of the people. It is time we look at this issue very carefully and protect our people,” said Mutsvangwa.
This is not the first time that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime has threatened to name and shame who it has termed economic saboteurs.
Last year, politicians and businesspeople who allegedly externalised over $1,3 billion during former President Robert Mugabe’s era were named, but just a few returned the money before the expiry of the set deadline.
Before the naming and shaming, speculation was rife that ousted allies of Mugabe were among those who externalised funds from the country, with government officials blaming this on cash and foreign currency shortages in the country.
But the list contained largely importing businesses that had not acquitted their import papers with the central bank as well as some Chinese nationals.
After the naming, no one was prosecuted for the alleged acts.